Arizona Helping Hands’ mission is to provide essential needs to Arizona’s children in foster care. Our primary program provides a twin bed or a crib to boys and girls who have been removed from unsafe environments due to abuse and neglect. Giving these kids a safe place to sleep, a personal space to lay down their heads and to dream of their future is the most vital part of our day-to-day services.
In 2013, we learned that there was no place in Arizona that provided beds and cribs to children in foster care. Boys and girls were sleeping on the floor, or fighting over the sofa at grandma’s house. What an awful state of affairs for youngsters who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The consequences to youth from ACEs can have long-term negative effects on a child’s health, well-being and opportunity to thrive. At Arizona Helping Hands our pillars of promoting safety, permanency and health for these boys and girls seeks to counteract the long lasting effects of ACEs.
We have now provided beds and cribs to more than 17,000 children! It is so gratifying to think of so many kiddos sleeping on a big boy bed, or resting safely in a crib thanks to the work that we do. It’s even more gratifying when you hear of the background story that every one of these boys and girls has lived.
Most of us take our own bed for granted. We don’t think twice about retiring to a quiet place to lay down our head at night, to read, relax and decompress at the end of a day. Fortunately, we haven’t been placed into foster care, leaving behind the only home environment we’ve ever known – perhaps where mom is cooking meth in the kitchen. We haven’t left behind our family, neighbors, teachers and our seemingly familiar surroundings. At Arizona Helping Hands, we believe that every child who enters foster care deserves better. They deserve a safe place to sleep, a new set of clothing, a special backpack, and even gifts to celebrate their birthday.
In response to a recent survey of our clients, we received reactions to the benefit of our safe sleep program. Foster families told us “She was so excited about getting a big girl bed, you would have thought it was Christmas morning!” “They no longer have to sleep on a blow-up mattress.” And “She no longer shares a bed with her little sister.” These statements accentuate the critical importance of our services.
The 200+ clients who responded to our survey all told us that they were satisfied or highly satisfied with the supports Arizona Helping Hands provided to them. I can’t think of a more gratifying role than to be able to make a difference in the life of a single child, much less the thousands of children whose lives we impact every year.
Our community of generous supporters makes our work possible. 17,000 children will rest tonight on a bed or crib that was given to them by Arizona Helping Hands. These children know that we care, that we love them, and that we work hard to make their path just a bit easier.
My favorite thank-you note from a grandmother who became the 24/7 parent to multiple grandchildren summed it up best: “Thanks to you, two little girls will dream about being princesses in comfortable beds, after coming to us with nothing but the clothes on their backs.” This thanks extends to every donor and volunteer who gives their time, talent and treasure to make dreams and so much more possible for Arizona’s children in foster care.